EXPLAINER: What you need to know about the NBA play-in tournament

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(CNN Philippines) — After staging a play-in game at the bubble in Florida last season, the NBA is holding an expanded play-in tournament for the first time to determine the last two seeds in the playoffs in each conference.

The NBA play-in tournament will begin on May 19 (Philippine time) and conclude on May 22, just a day before the start of the 2021 NBA Playoffs.

In previous tournaments, the top eight squads in each conference qualified for the playoffs. Not this time.

Now the number seven and eight seeds need to earn their spot in the postseason via the play-in tournament, while the number nine and 10 seeds will still have a chance to prove themselves.

Play-in tournament rules:

- The No. 7 seed will face the No. 8 seed in each conference. The winner of that match will occupy the seventh spot in the playoffs.

- The No. 9 seed will face the No. 10 seed in each conference. The loser of that match is eliminated from playoff contention and will be in the lottery.

- The loser of the game betwen No. 7 and No. 8 then faces the winner of the game between the No. 9 and No. 10 for the last spot in the playoffs.

The purpose of the play-in tournament is to make the tail end of the regular season more meaningful while also creating a Game 7-like environment with the early elimination games entering the postseason. This is also seen as a way to lessen tanking from teams.

Click here for the projected play-in tournament matchups and seedings in the 2021 NBA playoffs. 

The 2021 NBA Playoffs start on May 23.